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Inching Closer and Higher

Continuing to Everest

sunny 18 °C

While Gyantse was something of a detour from the most direct Lhasa to Kathmandu route, it was well worth it, living up to its reputation as one of the least Chinese-influenced towns in Tibet. We didn’t have the time to visit Lord-of-the-Rings-style Gyantse Dzong, but we did spend several hours at the 15th century Pelkhor Choede on Tuesday morning on our way out of town. This monastery offered a number of firsts: the opportunity to experience monks at study, for example, and the opportunity to photograph the inside of the monastery, for a fee of course.

Monks counting our hefty photo 'donation'

While we’re pleased to be able to share these pictures with you, we were both pleased that so few monasteries allow cameras and video beyond the front doors. Regardless of faith, it's quite a spiritual experience: burgundy-clad monks chanting and rocking back and forth as they read from cream-coloured parchment - and we prefer inhaling it all directly rather than through a camera.


Next stop, on Wednesday, was Shigatse, inadvertently (we think) referenced on our G.A.P. itinerary with a “t” where the “g” should be. We visited the Tashilhunpo Monastery which was founded by the first Dalai Lama in 1447, and is best known today as the seat of the Panchen Lama. Much of the Monastery was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but happily the tombs of previous Panchen Lamas remain. Even better, for the yuan equivalent of about US$15, we were permitted to take pictures which we did so you would have an idea of the kind of structures we were referring to in Lhasa’s Potala Palace. See the lengths we go to you for you?

Panchen Lama tomb, very similar in size and scale to the Dalai Lama tombs in the Potala Palace.

You can't help but feel obtrusive in these important places of worship and pilgrimage

Actually, Lloyd almost ended up in a scrap with a German when we refused to take a picture (with the German’s camera) using our rather expensive ‘photo license’! The German walked off in a blaze of George Bush related insults, not realizing that Lloyd understands German. When Lloyd asked him to be respectful of the sacred surroundings, it set our swastika-tattooed ‘friend’ off even more, and he had to be restrained by his poor wife!


A brief stop in Sakya felt like an itinerary-filler to us, although to be fair our visit was quite restricted as the bulk of the 13th century Monastery is under major renovation. Sakya is notable for its survival of the Cultural Revolution and – while the few buildings we saw yielded little of interest – we did enjoy our walk around the Monastery walls which offered splendid views over the beautiful surrounding countryside.


In one of the corner towers of the wall, we happened upon a darkened room filled with retired and gruesome Spitting Image puppets (no doubt there is some Buddhist symbolism here, but the few monks who discovered our presence seemed a little nervous about it so we didn’t ask!).

Sakya was far too remote a town to ask any questions about this stuff

After the Monastery, we wandered around the town, which yielded another selection of yak limbs, entrails and even fur for sale. In case you’re wondering, and according to Lloyd, yak tastes like a chewy, gamey beef.

More Yak for sale! Lloyd assures me its quite tasty, but seeing it like this was enough to put me off!

Posted by jacquiedro 20:14 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world

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it is brilliant to see china can't believe what is being achieved jean n richard

by jeanandric

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